AI companies write to UN on autonomous weapons

Representatives of over 100 companies working in the field of artificial intelligence and robotics have sent an open letter to the UN expressing concerns over developments in the field of autonomous weapons. Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Deep Mind Head of Applied AI Mustafa Suleyman are among those warning the UN that ‘lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare. Once developed, they will permit armed conflicts to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorist use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways.’ The signatories ask the UN ‘to find a way to protect us all from these dangers’. The letter comes in the context of a decision taken by the UN Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons to establish a Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems. The group was supposed to have its first meeting in August, but this was postponed for November.